Hornsby Council's first remote meeting a success

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Last night Hornsby Shire Council held its first remote meeting, with Mayor Philip Ruddock chairing from council chambers and the other participants joining by video link from their homes.

The meeting was also streamed via Council’s website for residents to follow the proceedings.

“It was not the ideal way to carry out a meeting, but under the circumstances it was the best option and we are very pleased with how it went,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“We were able to achieve all that we have been elected to do – steering the course of our shire while providing full public accountability to residents.”

The most significant item considered was the Draft 2020-2022 Delivery Program, including the Operational Plan 2020/21, which were placed on public exhibition today.

This outlines the budget for the coming financial year, although the full impact of COVID-19 has not yet been assessed.

“By the time the program and plan are adopted in June we will have received a comprehensive report on the impact of COVID-19,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“It is certainly going to have a significant impact on our budget, yet we remain confident that we will be able to weather these difficult times.”

Other significant items adopted at the meeting included:

  • The car share parking policy, allowing people to hire strategically-positioned vehicles for short periods of time;
  • A policy to allow electric vehicle charging stations to be placed on public land;
  • The commencement of the Comprehensive Heritage Study (among the submissions was one from the NSW Heritage Division congratulating Council on its strong recognition of heritage and culture);
  • That a submission be sent to the NSW Government urging an immediate temporary suspension of the Seniors Housing State Environmental Planning Policy, and that the policy be reviewed based on recommendations by the Greater Sydney Commission;
  • The endorsement of the nine recommended applicants to the Design Excellence Panel, which will provide guidance to developers and help them conform to community expectations. The members have a wide range of skills and passions, including architecture, urban design and sustainability.

General manager Steven Head also gave a comprehensive report on the way Council is adapting to the COVID-19 situation, while Mayor Ruddock successfully proposed steps to improve the ability of the public to bring matters to the attention of councillors at meetings.

“These are very challenging times and I must say that I am thrilled by the way our staff and councillors have been able to rise to meet that challenge,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“We have proven yet again that we are able to serve the needs and best interests of the community, no matter what happens.”

There was a rousing moment of unity when the mayor and councillors joined together in a remotely connected round of applause for the work that has been done by the staff.

The video recording of the meeting will be available on Council’s website on Tuesday.

The next meeting will occur on Wednesday 13 May, beginning at 6.30pm, and will again be broadcast live through Council’s website.